In three years, Kenya hopes to add oil to its already strong exports of coffee and tea. A British-based oil firm hit it big in the East African country’s South Lokichar basin last year, and now Nairobi is hoping to ramp up production—potentially to more than 5,000 barrels a day—and begin exporting its oil.To do so, Kenya will need to build out its energy infrastructure, and to do that, it’s going to need investors. To that end, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing this week, and on Monday China pledged $5 billion towards Kenyan energy and railroad projects. Reuters reports:
The cash would be spent on energy projects, a standard gauge railway linking the port of Mombasa in east Africa’s biggest economy to its border town of Malaba, meant to provide faster access from Kenya’s port to markets in the region, the presidency’s media service said in a statement on Monday. […]China is already key player in Kenya, constructing capital-intensive flagship projects, mostly roads.
This is the latest example of China’s increasing interest in Africa. On the face of it, everyone gets something out of the deal: Kenya gets a much-needed boost to its underbuilt infrastructure, an important first step towards becoming an oil exporter. China gets to boost its global influence while simultaneously securing a potential future source of oil, which will be important in the coming years as China is set to overtake the US as the world’s largest importer of oil by 2017. This is also excellent news from an American perspective: China is becoming more involved in maintaining a peaceful, capitalistic global trade system, and Washington gets to piggy-back on Beijing’s efforts.A lot more needs to happen between now and the day when Kenya starts shipping its oil abroad, but this is an encouraging first step.[Oil pipeline photo courtesy of Shutterstock]